NOTE: This review may contain spoilers – pesky things, really – so read with caution.
I had the privilege of watching Avengers: Age of Ultron tonight and decided to write a quick post about with my “reactive review.”
Though I wouldn’t necessarily say that Marvel outdid itself with the latest installment of Avengers, it was an entertaining film. Avengers: Age of Ultron had the signature humour one would expect from a Marvel film – with Ironman (Robert Downey Jr.) providing much of the comic relief in the film. The film also did a great job of introducing original origin stories for two well-known characters: Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch. Another new character, the Vision, also had a spectacular debut. Not to mention, the villain – Ultron – was nothing to sneeze at…
So why did it feel as if something was missing?
Well, something – or rather someone – was missing…and I think (with all the spoilers and discussion going around) we can all guess who…
Loki, of course.
I knew going in that Loki wasn’t going to have a role in the film – Joss Whedon had already discussed that (with his reasons) at length, but I was hoping that another character would make up for the lack…but, alas, it seems that Loki is hard to replace.
Though, I guess he was there in spirit since his staff played quite an important role in the film.
But I also felt that Thor was underdeveloped/underused in this film. (It seems that the Asgardians just couldn’t get a break in this film.)
While its true that Thor plays an important role in discovering the existence of the infinity stone and in the creation of the Vision, he otherwise delegated to action sequences rather than having his own personal narrative. On the other hand, the Hulk, Black Widow, and Hawkeye are heavily explored as characters – which is a refreshing turn of events.
Another refreshing change in the film was Ultron. Despite this film’s villain being a man-made and completely avoidable disaster, Ultron made sure that the heroes had to work to bring him down. He was unpredictable and a force to be reckoned with. Plus, he one-liners were funny. 🙂
Overall, Avengers: Age of Ultron packs a “mighty punch” with its flawlessly executed CGI and cinematography. It was highly entertaining and, judging by the cheer that went up in our theatre tonight, a crowd favourite!
(aka Film Critic)
Disclaimer: We apologize for the corny blog post title, but it seems that despite the fact that both Chaos and I co-wrote this post, our minds have been temporarily turned to mush after witnessing the masterpiece that is How to Train Your Dragon 2, and this title was unfortunately the best we could come up with under the circumstances. On another note, we will try to avoid spoilers whenever possible.
Many films can be considered visually stunning or narratively superior works of art, however few films can boast to being both a visual and narrative masterpiece yet How to Train Your Dragon 2 is exceptional on both levels.
Admittedly, both Chaos and I were disappointed with the lack of an original title for this film, and Chaos especially didn’t have high hopes for a sequel that at first glance didn’t bother to distinguish itself from it predecessor…yet we were wrong on both accounts. This film is very different from the first, with its own tightly packed story line, new characters, and new perspective on the relationship between vikings and dragons.
Now, if you’ve been following the Dragons television series (on Cartoon Network, or Teletoon in Canada), you won’t be surprised by the new peaceful coexistence between the vikings and dragons on Berk. The television series explores the pitfalls and obstacles that had to be overcome to achieve the new relationship we see between vikings and dragons in this film, but it is not 100% necessary to watch because, as mentioned before, How to Train Your Dragon 2 is still a distinct, stand-alone film.
But you don’t have to believe us, just watch the first five minutes of the film below, courtesy of the How to Train Your Dragon 2 animation team and see for yourself:
Dreamworks has improved their animation for the second film and the characters are more expressive than ever, which adds a whole new level of emotional involvement for the audience. And, like its now grown-up cast of characters, this film takes on a darker tone than the first. While the previous film only touched on some of the darker themes like danger and death, this one asks for a greater emotional sacrifices from the characters and audience.
But the darker themes in this film are still balanced by the light-hearted humour between the characters, the bonds of friendship, and the romantic elements.
Speaking of romance, although neither Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and Astrid (America Ferrera) directly state it, it’s pretty obvious that they’re an item now, and the seriousness of their relationship is balanced by the banter within the budding “love triangle” between Snotlout (Jonah Hill), Ruffnut (Kristen Wiig), and Fishlegs (Christopher Mintz-Plasse). We also get to see the rekindling romance between Stoick (Gerard Butler) and Valka (Cate Blanchett), so Dreamworks has made sure to cater to both the older and younger audience members.
And for those who enjoy a bit more action and rampaging bloodshed in their films, How to Train Your Dragon 2 has plenty of that as well – in fact, this one’s got a full-on war!
Finally, this film adds another strong female character to the story line. Though, Astrid has to take a bit of a backseat, because Valka – being Hiccup’s mother – is more essential to the destiny/fate themed narrative, both women have a chance to shine in How to Train Your Dragon 2. (It always saddens and astonishes us that we see stronger female characters in animated action films than in live action ones – though there is a bit of a change underfoot.)
But, at it’s heart, How to Train Your Dragon 2 is a coming-of-age story nestled in a beautifully animated landscape and executed with near-flawless perfection. The alternately hilarious and serious plot is a nostalgic reminder of our childhood dreams of discovering adventure and soaring on the back of a dragon!
–Rika Ashton and Chaos Ashton
(aka Film Reviewers Who May or May Not Have Cried During the Screening)
P.S: How to Train Your Dragon 2 releases in theatres this Friday (June 13th).
“We should call him the amazing Spider-Man!” – Max Dhillon, Electro (Jamie Foxx)
What can I say about this movie that hasn’t already been said? It’s AMAZING! Electrifying! Action-packed, hilarious, and heartbreaking!
I had to brace myself to watch this movie, because I knew what was going to happen going in, but I hoped against hope that it wouldn’t.
But, of course, it did.
If you’re a Spider-Man fan, or even if you’re relatively new to the series, you’ll probably have heard the rumours about a certain death in the film. Fans of the comics knew it was coming, so it’s not really a spoiler, but I was hoping that they’d stretch out this death scene until the next film.
But before I get into who I’m taking about, let me say that I’m not trying to spoil the film for anyone, but it’s relatively hard to write a review about the impact this film made – and Spider-Man’s future – without getting into the details.
So, last chance, IF YOU ARE WARY OF SPOILERS TURN BACK NOW!!!
No? Well, then…
Emma Stone‘s Gwen Stacy in part made the film what it is, so her death leaves a heavy impact on both the action on screen and the audience. Gwen is an inspiring character because she’s not only fundamental to the defeat of Electro but, as Harry Osborn (Dane Dehaan) puts it, she’s Spider-Man’s (Andrew Garfield) ” hope.” So when Gwen dies, in a terrifying clock-tower scene, there is literally a gasp in the audience. When the audience hears her skull crack on the pavement, it becomes the sound that defines the next scenes of the film for Spider-Man. Peter Parker puts down his costume and does no more than visit Gwen’s grave for an entire year, and though this is fast-forwarded for the purposes for the film, the time elapsed and Peter’s obsession is made clear. Peter lives in a vacuum of grief until it is Gwen’s herself that gives him hope again – in the form of her recorded high school valedictorian speech, which is ironically the same speech in which she foreshadows her own death. Spider-Man eventually regains his hope in time to presumably defeat the Rhino.
Which brings me to the villains of this film. Each of them, Electro, Green Goblin, and Rhino are given a back story, so they are all complex characters that the audience can sympathize with to some degree in the beginning – with the exception of Aleksei Sytsevich (the Rhino’s alter-ego played by Paul Giamatti), who was already an established criminal in the beginning of the film. Both the Dehaan’s and Foxx’s performances were inspired, though I think Foxx deserves bonus points for his portrayal of the nerdy electrical engineer turned supervillain!
And, of course, Foxx was literally electric in his EPIC fight sequences against Spider-Man!
Finally, of course, there is also the reference to the Sinister Six in the final leg of the film and the introduction of Felicia Hardy, Black Cat, portrayed by Felicity Jones, so we know that the upcoming Spider-Man films (2016 and 2018) already has a line-up of great villains!
Overall, I would say that The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was a nonstop thrill ride – no seriously three separate villains – and I can’t wait to see what the franchise has in store for us next!
Found another amazing trailer for X-Men: Days of the Future Past online last night. With a stellar cast – Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Jennifer Lawrence, and Michael Fassbender among others – how can anyone not be drooling with anticipation over the upcoming release of this film? (Not a pretty metaphor, but you get what I’m saying.)
And, yes, once again I am going to try and score advanced screening tickets so I can bring you the review before the release date…but as you can imagine, getting advanced screening tickets for this film is going to be very, very hard. (Good thing I’ve got my film connections here on the West Coast…and, by connections, I’m talking about the movie usher that works at the theatre closest to my house.)
But till then, we’ll all have to make do with the latest trailer for the film:
Are we excited or what?
(aka The One Who Will Bribe the Usher)
Note: I’ll try to keep this as spoiler free as possible, but read with caution regardless.
So guess who got tickets to the advanced screening of Divergent? This girl!
Before I go on, I should confess that I have never read the book by Veronica Roth …I know, I know…Oh, the horror! But I was actually kind of happy I didn’t read the book, because my movie buddy, who had read the book, said it was very true to the novel so she wasn’t surprised by the way things turned out in the film.
DIVERGENT is a thrilling action-adventure film set in a world where people are divided into distinct factions based on human virtues. Tris Prior (Shailene Woodley) is warned she is Divergent and will never fit into any one group. When she discovers a conspiracy by a faction leader (Kate Winslet) to destroy all Divergents, Tris must learn to trust in the mysterious Four (Theo James) and together they must find out what makes being Divergent so dangerous before it’s too late.
As for me, I thought the film was okay. It was entertaining, which is always must for me. (If I get bored by a film, I might not be dramatic enough to walk out, but I will complain after the fact until my family can’t take it anymore and decides to lock me out of the house in retaliation…something that happens far to often.)
The film makers did a decent job of setting up the dystopian world in the city of Chicago, which consists mostly of partially destroyed buildings in the background. The city is also divided into factions by the government: Erudites, Abnegation, Amity, Candors, and Dauntless. (For anyone, who has read the novel, this might sound familiar.) The different aspects of the world were well-explained in the film, and I wasn’t scrambling too much to fill in any gaps. However, I did find that the lines between some of the factions seemed a little blurred. For instance, the Abnegation and the Amity groups seem to be very similar in function. But, of course, the heroine Tris turns out to be divergent, which basically means she was “born to be undefinable” – which is basically the overall message of the film.
This leads into my next issue: the Choosing Ceremony. I never quite understood why it was such a big deal. Tris basically gets to choose the faction she wants to be a part of (Dauntless, in this case), so I really didn’t get why the parents and government made such a big deal of the ceremony. (My movie buddy later told me the reason was better explained in the book than the film, and while I can blame part of my confusion on lack of better attention, I am fortunately not solely at fault.)
However, the films’ leads, Woodley and James, had great chemistry – especially in the EPIC lip-lock, which is admittedly my favourite part of the film. Woodley was also in almost every scene of the film and did her best to portray a teenager turned rebellion leader. I also though that James did a decent job at acting the part of the mysterious Dauntless, Four.
That said, the rest of the cast including Kate Winslet and Maggie Q were sadly underused – surprising considering the potential star-quality of some of the actors cast in Divergent. (That, and I found Winslet’s American accent a bit distracting – this was really the one time they should have stuck with a British villain.)
But the slow start to the story soon gave way to fast-paced action, with a lot of fast moving trains! And since action films are my favourite kinds of films, I wasn’t complaining much at this point. Along with the action in the latter half of the film, the next best thing about Divergent was that there seems to be no love triangle in sight, and the story really plays up the chemistry between the main leads rather than focusing on unnecessary drama.
Yet, overall, I’m not entirely sure how I feel about the film. It had some good points and some bad ones, but it didn’t bore me to tears – of course, it didn’t inspire me to write a sonnet either. So as things stand, I’d say Divergent was an average film. It didn’t entirely stand alone and, despite what I thought earlier, it might have been a good idea to read the book before going in. For the mathematically inclined, I’d give the film a passing score of 2 out of 4 stars.
(aka, The Film Reviewer)
Don’t know how I missed this, especially since I’ve been searching for this trailer since I finished watching the first How to Train Your Dragon film all those years ago – yes, it really has been that long.
But, wow, I saw this and my first reaction was, “Holy s*** Hiccup is a grown-up!” (The Dragons television series did not prepare me for this.)
And then I saw the rest of the trailer, and yeah, my mind was BLOWN!
The trailer does give away ONE big surprise – so if you don’t like spoilers, don’t watch this. (Then again, maybe it was only a shocker to me.)
And check out some of the amazing art from the film below:
Hiccup can fly!
Can’t wait till this film hits theatres on June 13, 2014! (I wonder if it’s too soon to preorder tickets?)
Are you as excited as I am for this film? Or is there another film you’re more interested in seeing? Share your thoughts below.
(aka “I’m more excited than ever!”)
I’m almost a quarter of a century old! This November 7th – the greatest day in the history of the world – was my 24th birthday and I got to celebrate it with Thor!
Because really, who doesn’t want to celebrate their birthday with a gorgeous Norse god of thunder and lightning?
Alright, so maybe the real Chris Hemsworth wasn’t in the theatre with me, but watching Thor kickass on the big screen in Thor: The Dark World was just as awesome! 😀
The film was great – even better than the first, in my opinion. In the first film, we didn’t really get to see much of Thor (the god), but in this film Thor really gets to showcase the different aspects of his character. We get to see him fight to defend the seven realms and dark elves. Plus, even better, Thor is reunited with Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), her intern, her intern’s intern and a disgraced scientist. Plus, we get to see cameos by Stan Lee and Captain America (Chris Evans).
The film had plenty of action from start to finish and the humour that I’ve come to expect from most Marvel films. But the best part was seeing the different facets if the relationship between Thor and Loki (Tom Hiddleston). Loki is undeniably my favourite character in the films – and in this film, we really get to see the complexity of his character. Loki’s love for his mother, the complicated relationship with his brother and father. Even when Loki and Thor have teamed up, Loki is still a trickster.
One of the best Loki moments comes in the second half of the film, but I won’t spoil it for you here. (Well, unless you really, really want me to and in that case just leave me an email.)
If you haven’t see Thor: The Dark World yet, I highly recommend it. Here’s a look at the trailer:
But my birthday wasn’t over until I got my taste of the Dairy Queen Blizzard Cupcakes that I’ve been dying to try! The cupcakes were pretty good, but I still like the DQ cakes better. 😀
(aka The Old and Wise One)
Last night I finally had the chance to watch Star Trek: Into Darkness and let me tell you, despite myself, I had HIGH expectations for this film. I usually don’t read reviews for films I’ve been waiting to see, because I prefer to go watch movies with zero expectations and minimal bias – but the rave reviews for this film on Twitter, Rotten Tomatoes, etc were hard to avoid.
Based on the reviews I read, I was expecting to see some fast-paced action scenes – and I was not disappointed on this account. The film starts with a BANG! Without spoiling the film too much, let me just say that this film has everything from nearly erupting volcanoes, fight sequences atop space ships, fight sequences in space ships and other varities of high powered explosive action!
The continuing bromance between Spock (Zachary Quinto) and Kirk (Chris Pine) was both humourous, as any interaction between the Vulcan and human usually is, and heartbreaking. This film did a better job that the first, Star Trek (2009), at humanizing Spock’s character. We learn and understand more about the reasons behind his cold reliance on logic.
And Kirk is still Kirk! I’m glad that they didn’t change the fun-loving aspects of Kirk’s character. He’s still impulsive and compassionate, but now he’s a better captain for his crew. Kirk’s character has grown in some ways since the last film. He cares about his crew and it shows – especially near the end. 😦
The villain. Oh, what can I possibly say about Benedict Cumberbatch’s character in the film. I went in expecting to see some of Sherlock Holmes’ character in Cumberbatch. But, although, Cumberbatch’s Star Trek: Into Darkness character had some of Sherlock’s cold logic and intelligence, he was not nearly as capable in the detective arena – or the showdown between Spock and him would never have occured.
That said, Cumberbatch’s character in Star Trek: Into Darkness enables him to show of his mad fighting skills and a badass attitude that Sherlock would not be able to.
No offence, Sherlock!
Finally, there’s Uhura (Zoe Saldana) and I have to agree with Felicia Day’s assessment of the female character’s in this novel. Uhura, and really most of the female characters, disappear into the background during the film. I would have liked to see more of Uhura – especially after her role in the first film. But, even Uhura’s confrontation scene against the Klingons was short lived, and Cumberbatch stole the scene almost a minute later.
Again, no offence!
However, in terms of story and action, most of my expectations were met and I cannot recommend this film enough! For the most part, it’s entertaining – humourous and exciting – and, even though I was more aware of the lack of strong female characters after reading Day’s review, I still LOVED the film!
(aka The Film Critic)
When I first heard about the pending production of The Amazing Spider Man in 2010, I thought to myself, “Do we really need another Spider Man movie?” Afterall, at that point it had been only around 3 years since the finale of the last trilogy and the Tobey Macguire version was still fresh in my mind. Around the same time, I heard rumours that Robert Pattinson was set to star in the reboot franchise, which was another reason I did NOT want this film to happen.
However, last night I was dragged to the film by my two youngers brothers – although, I’m fairly certain that I would not have been invited at all if it hadn’t been for the fact that I was their ride. By the time we got there it was the theatre lobby was crowded with kids chattering to each other about how AMAZING – there’s that word again – they thought the film was going to be. (At this point, I still wasn’t sold on the idea of the new Spider Man.) We managed to snag three of tickets a few minutes before the show sold out.
After the movie finished, it took me a while to compose myself because, in a word, the film was AMAZING. (You knew that was coming, didn’t you?) Unlike the previous installments, the first film in the rebooted franchise offers a more pormising look at Peter Parker’s backstory, a new love interest – Gwen Stacy, played by Emma Stone – and a never before filmed villain. The whole film has a deeper emotional resonance than the previous installments as well. For one, we learn a little about Peter’s dad and colleagues, his aunt and uncle, all while we see the romance between Gwen and Peter develop – key word here is develop, because in the previous series, Mary Jane and Peter Parker didn’t seem to have the same chemistry as the newer couple. Likewise, and this is not a spoiler, we know from the comic book series that Gwen and Peter’s romance is a whole lot more tragic than his romance with MJ. Although, I’m hoping that the writers rescript that part in the coming films, because I can’t get enough of seeing Stone and Garfield together.
Which takes me to the casting – I never thought that anyone could play the skinny, smart superhero better than Macguire, but Garfield hit the proverbial nail on the head and then some. Not only was his acting more emotionally involving, Garfield was able to play both nerd and superhero with ease balancing both roles out with a nice dose of humour. Emma Stone was also the perfect choice for Gwen Stacy – I might be a little bias here since I adore her – and she brought a inherent strength to the character, not to mention her own classic humour and smarts.
Like the previous films, this one also featured a lot of “web-slinging action,” but now there was an actual reason for it and it wasn’t there just for special effects. Gwen also gets more involved in the action, rather than screaming her head off all the time, and the villain freaked me out more than any of the previous ones.
So, even though I had no hopes for this film before I went to see it, I am glad I forced to give my brothers a ride since I might have missed out on watching the most AMAZING (you knew it was coming back) summer film otherwise.
(aka The Very Amazed)
This week on Blogging with the Stars – okay, so my blog is really called Rika’s Musings, but I thought Blogging with the Stars had a nice ring to it considering that today I’ll be co-blogging with Delphyne (from Apollo’s Necromancer) and Chaos (the self-proclaimed Emperor of Kitties) – I decided to mix it up a little and write a nice movie review in poetic form for the Prince of Persia (2010). I enjoyed the movie, it was a great way to kill time, though not as intellectually inspring as something like The King’s Speech. The Prince of Persia was great “swashbucking” fun with plenty of twists and turns and romance!
‘Twas the night before Saturday and all through the house,
all the creatures were stirring, Chaos holding a mouse.
The soda was poured and the poporn was popped,
while Chaos, Delphyne and I wondered how Nizam would be stopped.
“This movie’s a flop,” cried Chaos the cat.
“There’s no feline present, not even one wearing a hat.”
Chaos hated films with no cats in sight,
even though in this case, I thought it was alright.
“There may not be much in the way of original plot,”
Delphyne agreed. “But you have to admit Jake Gyllenhaal’s HOT!”
The movie was long with action aplenty,
and the DVD only cost me dollars twenty.
So on watched our friends as many characters died,
Prince Dastan was blamed and young Chaos cried.
“It’s so unfair, he’s so misunderstood,
if only his brothers would believe him as they should.”
I quite agreed that enough was enough,
Dastan was innocent and his brothers on him too rough.
At least Princess Tamina helped and was kind,
although at first she drove Dastan out of his mind.
“I like the Princess, she’s smart and tough,” Delphyne said.
“I hate girls that whine and then end up dead.”
Yes, Gemma Aterton was a good heroine indeed.
She was also in Clash of the Titans as Io, a role in the lead.
(Note: I will watch the sequel to Clash of the Titans,
which is similarly entitled Wrath of the Titans.)
Though Dastan and Tamina only once did kiss,
the movie was romantic and one I’m glad I didn’t miss.
There you have it, my poetically inspired movie review of the Prince of Persia. It was fun and entertaining, but of course as a Disney movie it wasn’t graphically violent, like Jerry Bruckhiemer’s non-Disney film King Arthur (2005) – the Prince of Persia had plenty of stunts and sword-fights, but without all of the blood and lopped heads that were so prominent in King Arthur. All in all, it’s a decent film – though not thought-prvoking or with an overtly complicated plot. I give this movie 7 out of 10. (It loses points for only having one, badly-timed, kiss – seriously, Dastan and Tamina had so many opportunities and chose the worst possible moment to smooch.)